Five Unexpected Breast Cancer Symptoms

Be aware of these surprising signs of breast cancer.

When most women consider breast cancer symptoms, they think of a lump in the breast. Women are taught to perform self examinations to look for lumps and tissue changes, and this continues to be one of the best ways to detect breast cancer early. While you continue examining for lumps, keep in mind that there are other signs to be on the lookout for as you pay attention to your body. If you experience these symptoms and you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about getting the appropriate breast cancer screenings.

1. Upper back pain
This sneaky symptom can be caused by a lot of issues, so it’s not generally one you would associate with breast cancer. Breast cancer can cause back pain when tumors grow and push on nerves and ligaments, or when the cancer metastasizes, becoming bone cancer. If you’re worried about persistent upper back pain, ask your doctor if it could be a symptom of breast cancer.

2. Skin changes
The outside of the breast can be affected by breast cancer. The CDC recommends looking for flaky skin, dimpled skin or redness in the nipple area or the breast. While these changes could be caused by benign issues or general skin irritation, it’s important to listen to your instincts. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor.

3. Breast soreness
Many women experience sore breasts during hormonal changes related to pregnancy, breastfeeding and menstruation. For women used to dealing with tender, sore breasts, it may be surprising to learn that this is also a potential breast cancer symptom.

4. A lump in the armpit
Did you know that breast cancer can manifest as a lump in the armpit? Breast tissue extends as far as the armpits. When you perform an exam on your own breasts, be sure to check the area of your armpit as well. suggests checking from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

5. Nipple changes
If your nipple turns inward, changes in size or shape, or becomes sore, it may be a sign of breast cancer. Also pay attention to nipple discharge. If your nipples express liquid other than breast milk, talk to your doctor about getting a mammogram and further breast cancer screenings. Nipples can change in size and consistency through hormone and other changes related to pregnancy and nursing, but it’s still important to talk to your doctor and check in if you notice changes.

The Breast Center at The Medical Center of Plano offers patients diagnostic and genetic testing, pre- and post operative care, a variety of treatment options, valuable resources and extensive support. Please visit us online or contact 1-855-665-TMCP for a physician referral.

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